Norfolk man who captained Concorde dies from coronavirus
PUBLISHED: 09:07 05 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:53 06 May 2020
EDP pics © 2005
A Norfolk man who was the captain of the world’s most famous plane has passed away at the age of 75, having contracted coronavirus.
Peter Horton, from St. Olave’s near the county’s coast, died in Beccles on Friday, May 1.
He has been described by his friends as a “devoted and generous family man” who was “always very generous with his time, money, friendship and belongings”.
Mr Horton was an avid pilot and sailing enthusiast, and worked to reach the highest possible levels in each of his passions, spending 23 years working as a pilot, captain, and then general manager of the Concorde aeroplane team.
Born in 1944, Mr Horton began his pilot training at the age of 23 in 1967 with British European Airways (now BA), where his skill and determination led to him reaching possibly the top commercial pilot role in the world on Concorde - a job in which he broke many records, including being captain of the first flight to celebrate New Year’s Eve twice in one night in two different continents (at the turn of the millennium).
Mr Horton spent more than 9,000 hours flying Concorde, the world’s first and to date only supersonic passenger jet, which could famously fly between London and New York in just over three hours.
His friends at the Waveney and Oulton Broad Yacht club, where he was an active member for many years, said: “He always said you could never tire of the exhilaration of being in command of such a magnificent aircraft,” and that he loved “the unbelievable power to take off, travelling faster than a rifle bullet and flying so close to the edge of space that you can see the Earth’s curvature”.
Among so many facets of the bold and adventurous life he lived, his friends said the memories he held closest to him included flying the Queen to Ottawa, Canada on a state visit while he was commander of the royal flight.
Jenny Riley, a friend of Mr Horton at the sailing club, added: “For Peter, flying Concorde was the ultimate in excitement and seat-of-the-pants flying where every take off and landing was a challenge.
“On two occasions, Peter flew over Oulton Broad and Lowestoft while the squibs were out sailing and opened the plane’s boosters just overhead. None of us who were there will ever experience such a noise and thrill again. I don’t think it went down so well with the aviation authorities, though.”
Alongside flying, his great passion was competitive sailing, which he began after moving to Suffolk in 1979 and joining the Waveney and Oulton Broad Yacht club where he also became a fleet captain.
His best result was when he came 13th overall at Plymouth in the 1999 squib championships.
The sailing club said: “He was always a very keen competitor and latterly when his strength and health was failing him, his friend Richard Thurston kept him sailing his beloved Squib long after anyone else would have given up.”
Towards the end of his career on Concorde, Mr Horton took the plane on a ‘round the world’ experience, taking his sailing friend Bryan Riley on a non-stop flight from South America to New Zealand at twice the speed of sound.
Mr Riley said he remembered that while on the trip, Mr Horton, who lived his life to the full, bungee-jumped from a bridge into a gorge while wearing his Concorde captain’s hat, which fell as he jumped (though was luckily reclaimed later).
Mr Horton is survived by his wife, Judith, his daughter, Carrie, and his son Paul and their families who all live in America.
“We look forward to the time when travel and gatherings are possible again, so that we can all meet together, raise a glass and celebrate our memories of our happy times with Peter,” the sailing club said.
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